ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Panchayat Raj : Indirect Election

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The central government has taken its time to come to a decision on deferring the 87th Constitution Amendment Bill first introduced in 1999, seven years after the passage of the 73rd Amendment Bill which made the panchayat system a reality. But by its action it has now put the Chandrababu Naidu government in a tight spot. Panchayat elections scheduled for 1999, but long postponed, will now have to take place before July 30. Other states which had used the excuse of the imminent passage of the 87th Amendment Bill for the postponement – Assam, Punjab, Pondicherry and Gujarat (only gram sabhas) – will now have to get on with the process.

The 87th Amendment Bill had sought to mandate the manner in which the various panchayati raj institutions would be constituted, elaborating on the provisions of the 73rd Amendment Act. It specified that the intermediate and the zilla parishad levels be entirely constituted of the presidents of the panchayat and intermediate levels. Further, the presidents of the two levels would be directly elected and not as now by the elected panchayat members. In sum direct election would only be at the gram panchayat level. This would make a mockery of the intent of the 73rd Amendment Act to provide space and authority to a vast number of those social sections which did not enjoy them till then. This would affect the composition of the over three lakh local government representatives. In Andhra Pradesh, for instance, the 1,093 mandal parishads and 22 zilla parishads have together 16,033 members. Under the new legislation they will no longer be directly elected but be constituted from 22,000 gram panchayats and some 1,100 intermediate panchayats.

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